Your Employees Don’t Get Your Strategy

Posted by David Grossman on Mon,Nov 21, 2016

Recent research from a myriad of sources paints a dismal picture of how leaders are doing at helping their employees understand company strategy and how they fit in.

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You’ve probably heard the story about two bricklayers.  You ask one bricklayer what he’s doing and he says, “I’m building a wall.”  You ask another and he says, “I’m building a castle.”

To drive performance, leaders need more employees who understand not just that they’re building a wall, but that they’re building a castle.

Research shows that helping employees understand strategy matters, yet we’re far away from both the wall and the castle.  The stats show the reasons are many and varied, including that leaders struggle with how to do it.

Understanding Strategy Means Business

  • Communication from leaders that focuses on explaining the organization's vision/mission/strategies and how employee’s individual jobs fit into the big picture are key drivers of how employees feel about their leadership and the effectiveness of internal communication overall. Communication Climate Index, The Grossman Group, 2016
  • Motivating employees to help achieve your strategic vision increases profitability 22% to 27% over a 6-12 month basis. Chief Executive Group, “4 Ways to Motivate Employees to Help Achieve Your Strategic Vision,” working study of 100s of their client companies, August 2015
  • 57% of surveyed Americans stated they would perform better at their jobs if they better understood the company's direction. Zeno Group, online survey of 1000 Americans, early 2015
  • One-third (33%) of executives were not confident that their employees could accurately communicate the company's business strategy to others. Zeno Group, "Barriers to Employee Engagement" Study, 2014
VISUAL TWEET-Motivating employees.png
  • Only 29.3% of employees could correctly match their company to its publicly espoused strategy. Timothy Devinney, “All talk, no action: why company strategy often falls on deaf ears,” University of Technology (Sydney) Study, 2013
  • 66% say the CEO explains the company's vision/strategies...and just 60% say the same about their unit's most senior executive. Communication Climate Index, The Grossman Group, 2016
  • 40% say they don’t get the company’s vision or have never seen it. Kelton, “America’s Workforce: A Revealing Account of What U.S. Employees Really Think About Today’s Workplace.” Survey, 2012/2013
  • Only 40% of employees strongly feel that their managers understand the company’s strategy or goals. Kelton, “America’s Workforce:  A Revealing Account of What U.S. Employees Really Think About Today’s Workplace.” Survey, 2012/2013
  • 58% say their employer is effective at helping them understand how their job fits into the company's overall goalsCommunication Climate Index, The Grossman Group, 2016
  • While many senior executives should be able to help workers understand the organization’s vision, fewer than one in five (16%) employees think that’s what they do best. Kelton, “America’s Workforce:  A Revealing Account of What U.S. Employees Really Think About Today’s Workplace.” Survey, 2012/2013
  • Just under half (48%) of the nation’s workers believe that senior executives at their company are committed to the organization’s overall vision or mission. Kelton, “America’s Workforce:  A Revealing Account of What U.S. Employees Really Think About Today’s Workplace.” Survey, 2012/2013
  • 52% say they are kept informed about decisions that affect their jobs. Communication Climate Index, The Grossman Group, 2016

In an upcoming post, I’ll share how to create line of sight. Here’s an appetizer – like so many things, line of sight starts with you.

How well can you articulate how your team fits in to the larger company strategy?

—David Grossman


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